As the inaugural A1 Grand Prix of Nations reaches its half way mark, next weekend's sixth round of action at the series' 'home nation' of Dubai will be one of the most critical events of all the recent high-profile races in the Middle East.

While the region has already been introduced to the high-powered worlds of Formula One, Moto GP and sportscar racing, the fact that A1 Grand Prix is a concept founded by a Dubai national.

And make no mistake about it, series founder, president and chairman, Sheikh Maktoum has ensured that some pretty important people will be on hand to witness his concept up close and personally.

Sunday's two races will be held under the royal patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and UAE Defence Minister.

"I am honoured and privileged to have for this event the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed," stated A1 president Sheikh Maktoum. "This project is perfect for my nation as it represents the diverse melting pot that Dubai has become both in terms of its culture and its peoples.

"I am doing this for my country and hope to showcase Dubai to the world in the best light possible. We will be bringing one of the biggest events ever to Dubai and I am sure the eyes of the world will be on us. I promise a spectacular show, which is A1 Grand Prix. Its elements are exciting racing and entertainment for everyone, young and old. This will be our first visit to the Middle East and we will make it an unforgettable experience for the fans," Sheikh Maktoum continued.

Recent television figures revealed an audience of over eight million people per race in more than 120 countries for the opening events and expectations are for this figure to increase for Dubai.

"As this is A1GP's home race we are confident of viewer figures reaching ten million as we now have a faithful television fan base. I am going to be particularly proud to showcase this event to my family and the people of Dubai who up to now have only been able to watch the thrilling action on television," said Sheikh Maktoum.

The launch of A1 Grand Prix in Dubai in March 2004 coincided with the official opening of the Dubai Autodrome.

Chairman of the Dubai Autodrome, Saeed Khalfan added; "We are very happy to have A1 Grand Prix in Dubai and for our autodrome to act as host for this event. I hope the event will be successful and it is great for us to see A1GP representing Dubai in the world of motorsport. I am very proud to have Sheikh Maktoum representing our country. He has been very courageous and we are all impressed with the drive he has shown in making this series such an international success."

Another event that will also be attracting international celebrities to Dubai next week is the Dubai International Film Festival, thus the celebrity guest list for the race meeting will include international and local names from the worlds of fashion and sport as well as Hollywood film stars. A1 Grand Prix is the only truly global winter racing series and now the eyes of the world will be on Dubai with the country determined to deliver an unforgettable spectacle.

Moving forward, despite being only halfway through its inaugural season, A1 Grand Prix is already working on long-term plans for deals with both venues and sponsors.

"We have plans way beyond the end of our first season, and the deals we are working on with sponsors both in Dubai and internationally are nearing completion. We are also having serious discussions with venues and these are not just for single year deals," said Sheikh Maktoum.



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